In dry conditions all three of the Ducati Xerox riders, Bayliss, Fabrizio and Canepa, made a strong start to their campaign for victory this weekend at the Automotodrom of Brno. After a few tyre issues this morning for most of the Superbike riders due to the lack of grip on track after yesterday’s rainfall, the field got back to business in this afternoon’s first qualifying session. At the conclusion of that session it was local rider Smrz who had registered the fastest lap on his privateer Ducati bike. Troy Bayliss and his factory 1098 F08 recorded the third fastest time to take a provisional front row place on the grid while his two team-mates Michel Fabrizio and Niccolo’ Canepa (the latter riding the F09 development machine) achieved the seventh and eighth fastest lap times respectively.
A track at which the Ducati Superbikes have not excelled in the last couple of years, it is worth noting that six of the first eight riders on this afternoon’s time sheet were on board Ducati machines.
Troy Bayliss 1’59.5
“I’d say today has gone quite well. The lap times have been very fast as the surface is so grippy. Everyone had problems this morning as yesterday’s rain meant the track surface was destroying the tyres. This afternoon was much better, with most people able to put in some fast qualifying times. The lap times that I recorded on the race tyre were definitely faster than those of last year. Tomorrow I hope to improve the feeling I’ve got with the rear and if I can do that, I think we’re pretty much there.”
Michel Fabrizio 2’00.0
“It’s all gone quite well. At the start it took us a while to find the right direction but this afternoon we got back on track so to speak. We tried different tyres before finding the right one with which to make the best lap times. I lost three tenths while making what would have been my fastest lap due to traffic on track, which was a shame as I wanted to complete at least one lap in under 2’00. Anyway we improved throughout the day and I’m confident that we’ll continue to improve tomorrow.”
Niccolo’ Canepa 2’00.1
“We’ve worked a lot on the bike set-up today. The last time I rode this track was while testing the Ducati GP bike a few weeks ago and so I need to adapt all my points of reference now to the Superbike. It’s taking me a bit of time to properly understand when to open the gas, break etc. but I reckon we are getting there. We’ve tried a few different things and have done a lot of laps to check how the tyres are with regard to race pace. Tomorrow I think we can better the lap times but today has been more than satisfactory.”
The following is from Yamaha…
Troy Corser (Yamaha Motor Italia WSB Team) enjoyed a competitive start to his Brno race weekend by scoring second best time behind local favourite Jakub Smrz, on the recently resurfaced 5.403km Brno circuit.
Corser’s early pace has already seen him under the previous circuit best, with one more qualifying session plus Superpole on Saturday to determine his final grid position.
Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha Motor Italia WSB Team) was held back in his early laps by a niggling fault with his machine’s electronics package and lost him track time that held back his ultimate provisional qualifying position to 12th.
The weather conditions remained dry through first qualifying, despite some dark clouds skirting the track, and both Corser and Haga would prefer dry conditions for day two, to complete their pre-race set-up work in consistent conditions.
David Checa (Yamaha GMT94) is in a provisional Superpole qualifying slot, 14th, one place ahead of his brother Carlos.
Shinichi Nakatomi (Team YZF Yamaha) was 17th today, Sebastien Gimbert (Yamaha GMT94) 19th, making Superpole entry a real possibility for each rider after the final official qualifying session.
Troy Corser (2nd – 1’59.493 – Yamaha Motor Italia WSB Team)
“The settings feel reasonably good already and I think the grip from the track is starting to come in more, with rubber being put onto the track. I think sand is washing onto the track when it rains so I hope it doesn’t rain tonight. I think there will be more life from the tyres as well, although the front tyre is still a bit of a problem for race distance. But we still have something to try in the set-up of the bike to help that a little. There is a lot of pressure on the front tyre here, more than at any other track, maybe. And there is a lot of heavy braking going into corners here. Up the steep hill our bike is pretty good compared to the other guys I was on track with, so I’m quite happy so far.”
Noriyuki Haga (12th – 2’00.371 – Yamaha Motor Italia WSB Team)
“This morning we had problems with the electronics and that stopped us from making a lot of laps and that has stopped us from making good lap times. So it has taken time to try and catch up. We started with different settings from last year, and we tried another setting this afternoon, and finally we found a good feeling. Not enough for the race yet, so I hope tomorrow we find even better settings. For me, the track feels the same as last year, maybe it is more slippery.”
Massimo Meregalli (Team Manager, Yamaha Motor Italia WSB Team)
“Troy is up front and Nori can get there two, so we will see how we go tomorrow. Nori lost some time when we had a few problems this morning but we are confident because this is still only Friday. Our tyre choice here is critical, but we have already found one rear that works well. Now we need to find a front one. But overall we are OK. The riders feel different things from the track surface but that is because they have very different riding styles!”
The following is from Suzuki…
Team Suzuki Alstare rider Fonsi Nieto finished the first day of qualifying at Brno today with the sixth fastest time and ended the quickest of the Belgium based squad. Team Alstare Suzuki rider Max Neukirchner ended with the ninth quickest time, but Suzuki Alstare rider Yukio Kagayama is still suffering problems with his left hand and could only manage eleventh. Local hero Jakub Smrz (Ducati) sent the home fans wild by topping the standings at the end of today’s qualifying session. Second is Aussie Troy Corser (Yamaha), ahead of fellow countryman Troy Bayliss (Ducati), with Max Biaggi (Ducati) fourth.
Fonsi – 6th, 1:59.926
I’m quite happy today and feel very positive about tomorrow – as long as the weather stays OK and it doesn’t rain. Today we tried two different styles of bike. We tried a new style of balance and new spec engine on one bike and an old style balance and old spec engine on the other. At the end, my preference was for a new style balance together with an old spec engine. We are working a lot on the suspension and trying to get the front forks to absorb better. The track has new asphalt and in the afternoon the grip felt similar to the morning, but the tyre life was better. If it stays dry, I think that the grip will improve some more and the lap times will come down further.
Max – 9th, 2.00.179
I think today went well and we didn’t have so many problems. The track asphalt is a bit strange at the moment because we used hard tyres and the tyre life was not as good as when we changed to softer ones! We altered the chassis set-up in the afternoon to help me keep the line in a corner and we will continue to work on this. The new asphalt definitely has more grip and I am sure that the laps times will improve quite a bit as long as it doesn’t rain.
Yukio – 11th, 2:00.361
The ligaments in my left hand are still giving me some problems, and my strength there is not yet 100%, but the pain is less. The track doesn’t feel the same as last year and the new surface reminds me of Qatar – sandy, with not a good feeling. But the lap times are not so bad. We made a little mistake with the settings in the beginning of the afternoon, qualifying, but changed them at the end of the session and improved the feeling. Tomorrow we will make some adjustments to the front and rear suspension and see if we can the bike better entering the corners.